Parshat Tazria Summary

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Parshat Tazria is the 4th parsha in Sefer Vayikra (also known as Leviticus).

This parsha is verses Leviticus 12:1 – 13:58, or a total of 66 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

This parsha discusses two major topics.

Chapter 12 is about a woman’s status after giving birth.
Chapter 13 is about an affliction called in Hebrew “tzara’at.”

Aliyah 1: Leviticus 12:1 – 13:5, 13 verses

After a woman gives birth she acquires a spiritual “impurity” (in Hebrew, tumah).

Her impurity lasts for 7 days after giving birth to a boy and 14 days after giving birth to a girl.

Forty days after the birth of a son and eighty days after the birth of a daughter, the mother brings a sin offering and a burnt offering.

As mentioned above, Chapter 13 deals with the affliction “tzara’at.” This affliction is often translated as “leprosy.” However, that is not a proper translation. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch discusses in detail the differences between tzara’at and leprosy.

The affliction of tzara’at can appear in various places: a person, a garment, and a building.

If it appears on a person’s skin, that person shows the spot to a priest. Depending on its appearance, the priest may quarantine the person for 7 days.

The priest again examines the person on the 7th day.

Aliyah 2: Leviticus 13:6 – 13:17, 12 verses

After the first or second quarantine the priest may declare the person “pure” or “impure.”

It is possible for the tzara’at to spread and completely cover a person. That person is considered “pure” until the tzara’at begins to heal and healthy skin again appears on the person.

Aliyah 3: Leviticus 13:18 – 13:23, 6 verses

A person may have a wound that heals. It’s possible for that healed area to turn into a tzara’at.

Aliyah 4: Leviticus 13:24 – 13:28, 5 verses

Also, a person may experience a burn on the skin. It’s possible for this burn to heal but then turn into a tzara’at.

Aliyah 5: Leviticus 13:29 – 13:39, 11 verses

The affliction of tzara’at can appear on a person’s head or face. The priest may need to quarantine the person to determine if the affliction is tzara’at or not.

Not every skin affliction is tzara’at. For example, dull white spots are not tzara’at.

Aliyah 6: Leviticus 13:40 – 13:54, 15 verses

A person can get tzara’at on the head, but baldness is not a sign of tzara’at.

The person with a confirmed case of tzara’at must be isolated and live outside the Jewish camp. That person also tears his garments and proclaims his status to those who come near him.

This ends the discussion of a person afflicted with tzara’at in this parsha. In the next parsha, Metzora, we will learn details about how a person with confirmed tzara’at is able to rejoin society.

There is also a type of tzara’at that can afflict clothing and other materials. That is the topic for the rest of this parsha.

In people, tzara’at has a white color. In a garment, it has a green or red color.

As with a person, suspected tzara’at in a garment is examined by a priest. The priest may need to quarantine the garment to see if the suspected affliction decreases, stays the same, or spreads.

Aliyah 7: Leviticus 13:55 – 13:58, 4 verses

A garment with a tzara’at that is not “healing” is destroyed by fire.

A garment with a “healed” tzara’at is washed. It may be necessary to cut the afflicted area out of the garment.

Haftarah Summary

2 Kings 4:42 – 5:19

This haftarah tells the story of Naaman, a non-Jewish general who was afflicted with tzara’at. The prophet Elisha advised him what to do to heal his affliction. At first Naaman rejected Elisha’s advise and refused to follow it. He was then persuaded to do what the prophet told him to do.

Further Reading

There is more about tumah and tahara in this article.

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